How to Keep the Holidays from Annihilating Your Budget

Save money during the holidays

It’s that time of year again. Time for holiday decorations, constant gift-giving commercials, and wish lists taller than a Christmas tree. I’m sure I’m not the only person who meets the holidays with equal parts excitement and dread. I can’t wait to put up the lights and light some cinnamon and pine candles, but I’m also terrified of how I’m going to buy gifts for all the people in my life. What should be a time for togetherness turns into a contest to see who can buy the best gifts.

So how can you make sure that you don’t either annihilate your budget or charge up credit that can set you back months?

1. Pool Your Resources

Let’s face it, a lot of the most exciting gifts these days are large (at least in terms of the impact they make on your wallet). Young people often want an iPhone, an iPad, an Xbox, or a new computer. Even parents and grandparents are getting excited about new technology and want to try these things out, or they crave new and improved TV’s or appliances for their homes.

But chances are, you won’t be able to make these big purchases for everyone. So if you’re one of a few siblings trying to buy something for your parents or even a group of friends buying for each other, consider pooling your resources to land that big-ticket item. You can make your nephew happy with that new video game system he’s been wanting, but you won’t have to pay for it all yourself. It’s a win-win!

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2. Make it Personal

While going in together on an expensive gift is a great option, you’re not going to want to do that for everyone in your life. So how else can you show someone what he or she means to you without overextending? Do something personal. Consider what makes that person special or what they really like — something that maybe no one else would think of.

Perhaps there is a musician he or she really likes that you could find an obscure recording of, or a reprinted painting by their favorite artist on sale. You can identify something unique that represents your relationship with the person. The point is, we can get so caught up in the obvious gifts that we forget to search for the one thing that someone would really appreciate but might not have even thought of themselves. Again, this could keep you from spending lots of money and actually make someone feel really special.

3. Do it Together

So maybe you’ve thought of something personal but it is still outside of your budget — what now? For example, maybe that obscure recording is so rare that it costs more money than a new iPod… but that musician just so happens to be playing at a local venue several months from now. You could buy tickets for the two of you to go or you could go in with your whole group of friends on several tickets. Again, this shows that you know what they really enjoy and now you’re giving them an even better gift:  your time.

With everyone’s schedules so busy these days, having a time together to do something special could be the most meaningful gift of all. Let’s say you and a friend have always said you should check out the new art exhibit in town but you never seem to find time to make it happen. Buy tickets to go together. It won’t cost much and again, you’re also offering to spend the day with someone who means a lot to you. No matter what the person you’re shopping for likes, there are many options of things you could probably do together and it doesn’t matter if the event is months away — making the plan together gives you both something to look forward to once the holiday rush is over!

Everyone gets stressed this time of year. The list of people to buy for always seems to grow while the budget seems to stay the same or get smaller. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy the same old gift cards or spend all of your money to make people happy. As you can see here, you have lots of options to please your loved ones and sometimes the best gifts can’t be put into a box. So before you hit the mall, put on your thinking cap and you may come up with better gifts than you ever have — all while saving money!

Image by Ken’s Oven

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